Biloxi

IT LIVES. It blogs and breathes and snarls at the darkness for you, and digs through other people’s refuse to find the gems partially so you don’t have to, but also to suggest that perhaps you should. Perhaps you should join our quest.

Occasionally it goes out of town.

I Love Memphis with a burning passion, but motherfucker has to take a vacation every once in a while, and recently we chose to beat feet to the immediate southern coastal environs, accompanied by a dear heart and fellow traveler, who was kind enough and brave enough and kinda brave enough to voyage into the secondhand depths of southern Mississippi with us, where we discovered all sorts of delightful nonsense. Forgive the hair, we just got out of a convertible because that is literally how we roll(ed).

So we’ve got your basic small town Goodwill. We constructed a rough itinerary for this trek the way we always do when we find ourselves in a new location (Memphis, we’re looking at you): type “thrift stores” into google maps, see what comes up, and go from there. There, our secret is out. Expectations were… measured, to say the least, but one of the cool things about small town thrift stores is they’re not always as picked over as some of the larger ones in larger localities.

It’s weird, not to get too nuts and bolts-y about it, but there’s a strange balance that can be struck between larger cities having larger donation bases to draw from but also having a larger clientele base to pick things over, versus smaller towns maybe not having as deep of a well to draw from, but also not having as many voracious (or tasteful) shoppers… We wouldn’t deign to come down on one side or another, they certainly both have value, but it was very refreshing to step into a smaller market and have the luxury of coming across things that we’re fairly certain would have been snapped up in a heartbeat if it were a larger city with savvier shoppers. Case in point:

WHA-POW! Absolutely BEAUTIFUL white pinstripe dress shirt that fit your humble narrator like a glove (emphasis on the “love”), for all of like three or four bucks, which came along precisely when we were running low on decent dress shirts. No stains, rips, tears, wears, ring around the anything, none of it. Pristine. Mint. And PRECISELY the kind of thing that you never see in busier markets because folks are constantly snapping them up. We found about three of these smart little numbers over the course of our travels, and although eyewitness reports may contradict this assertion, we only giggled like small schoolchildren once or twice. Audibly, that is. Sometimes you have interior giggles.

I don’t know what the hell this belt buckle means or stands for but I came so close to buying it just because it seemed like you could pull some serious power moves if you had that emblem hanging right by your junk. You could basically just walk into a police station and grab a shotgun and start tearing the ceiling apart and all you’d have to yell is “MULTINATIONAL FORCE AND OBSERVERS” (or maybe “ROWING IT!?”) and they’d all be like “this is happening for a reason and it’s totally fine.”

And then sometimes you have flip flop candles. Seems cute on the surface, but then you light them and guess what you end up with? A bunch of melted flip flops. Doesn’t that sound like the saddest shit you’ve ever heard of?

melted flip flops, why
such a wretched existence
i paid for this shit

Sometimes you have to haiku about it. Don’t be mad.

HEYYY! WACKY! Look at this craziness! It’s a handheld bug zapper! What could be cooler than that! You can just run around all willy nilly slapping the little so and sos out of the air! Hell, give it to the kids, let them run around and have at it! Wait a second, what’s that…

OH REALLY. So wait, what you’re telling me is that a fucking electrified tennis racket isn’t an appropriate thing to have around children? WOW. Mind = blown. Next thing you’ll tell me lawn darts are dangerous. I love that they found it within their purview to include a warning label, but didn’t stop to think that perhaps their package design, which if you refer to the previous picture, has like a cartoon superhero arm reaching out to grab the thing and has sound effects on it and shit, would perhaps attract the attention of young people? NOOOOO. Never. You know what, give it to the fucking kids. Let them electrocute each other. As a product of the last generation to grow up with legitimately deadly playground equipment (we’re talking iron jungle gyms on concrete, none of that wood chip nonsense), this author can attest that sometimes you have to weed out the dumb ones.

MACHO POWER! BEEF HULKTHRUST! SLAM IT! I would have bought this but I wasn’t prepared to look like quite as much of an asshole as the guy on the outside of the package. Also it’s basically just springs. But come on, who doesn’t want MACHO POWER! YEAH! YELL AT IT! THROW IT! DISCUS! BEEF!

yelling

In a perfect world this would just be an entire album of someone going “Hello! Hello! Hello! Hello!” over and over again. Side two is “Pretty bird! Pretty bird! Pretty bird! Pretty bird!” I was really tempted to buy it just to find out, but then I realized I’d be paying money for a fucking Cockatiel Training Album (although to be fair it IS the “complete” one) and I thought “what manner of beast have I become?” and recoiled in existential horror. Seriously, Lovecraft couldn’t wreak this kind of a nightmare if he tried. Imagine taping someone to a chair and just putting this record on on an endless loop as loud as it could go, and seeing how long it would take until their brain broke.

Why do I get the feeling sometimes that this blog is going to be used against me as exhibit A in some sort of criminal trial someday?

On we go, to the “Re-Threads Re-Sale” store on beautiful Pass Road, on a sunny afternoon in between Biloxi and Gulfport, MS. Resale stores you need to be careful of. Anyone can put the word “thrift” in the name of their business and people are going to assume it’s the functional arm of some sort of nonprofit organization or another, but the real truth of it (I hate to pull back the curtain like this but so be it) is that most “thrift” stores are actually run for profit and purchase their stock, either from estate sales or business closeouts or whatever else, and even the ones that advertise that they’re operating for altruistic means (I’m looking at you, Goodwill and Salvation Army) have a lot of shall we say questionable practices going on behind the scenes.

JUST TO SAY that while the word “thrift” is somewhat specious, when a store goes so far as to advertise themselves as “re-sale,” you KNOW you’re dealing with some mercenary bastards. And something about that (I hate to say this) sours the experience, it’s not like they’re not all in it for the money, but the ones who just openly say “re-sale” make it sound like you’re getting screwed just in the very title, whereas at least “thrift” implies you might find a bargain or two.

And sure as shit, this building was an awful little bunker full of 60 dollar suits and disorganized shoes and stained wedding dresses that cost more than my rent. An illustration:

Just tacky overpriced crap in a makeshift low ceiling lean-to yurt kind of thing, not organized in the slightest, no signage whatsoever, almost defying you to find something worth paying money for to have.

The most interesting thing about it was the York Peppermint Patty dispenser.

Oh and this stupid shit

Moving on. Here’s a tiny TINY tiny tiny spot (seriously smaller than my apartment, which is tiny, tiny, TINY, and also tiny) but it had a bunch of weird interesting crap, reasonably priced as well, as a delightful contrast to the big barn full of stupid we were just in.

As you can see, small, and somewhat cramped, and while stores that are set up this way can evoke claustrophobia in those inclined to be sensitive to that sort of thing [raises hand], sometimes it just means that there’s a lot of quality merch packed into a very small space, and you have to spend extra time and care to sift through the petals until you get the rose to bloom.

Ok that sounds a little gross, I’m not trying to have sex with a thrift store, I can’t even believe how awful and nasty that last sentence sounded. Forget it, I quit. Blog over.

x

NEVER MIND I CAN’T STOP HERE ARE LEAF SHOES

This place had a barrage of shoes. An assault of them. It actually had so much amazing shit, and reasonably priced too, that I wanted to pick the entire store up and drag it down the street to the last place and show it to them and be like “HEY! See this? Why don’t you try and do that instead please” but of course that’s impossible. It’s still a nice idea.

Nope, don’t know what that is. Next

Everything about this is perfect. Matched set of little mushroom jars and pitchers and spice containers, hilariously kitschy 70’s look, actually seemed pretty sturdy and decently made, only like 25 bucks which for a full set like this is really actually a pretty good price. This is the kind of thing that makes you want to toss everything in your kitchen and just start over so you can have cool stuff like this. I definitely fell under the spell of this beguiling little conglomeration of cuteness, until I looked at it closer and realized I was probably never going to need a tiny mushroom shaped shaker for my marjoram. Then I realized I didn’t actually know what marjoram was. Do they still make that? Is that even a thing? I had to look it up

We here at Secondhand Underground Explorational Ventures Facility & Ongoing Concern, Ltd love a good buddha statue as much as the next faceless organization that exists solely to peer into your dreams and assess the value of what it finds there, in fact a buddha statue was the source of maybe the coolest photo we’ve ever taken at a thrift store:

But have you ever noticed that Fat Smiley Raise the Roof Buddha tends to get a lot more play than Skinny Sitting Here Bubble Covered Head Buddha? Which is odd, considering they’re not actually the same guy. Not to split hairs or anything. But our pet theory on the subject is that just judging on visual appearances, the fat guy with the robe, infectious smile and eminently rub-able belly just LOOKS like a lot more fun to hang out with than the smirking sitting guy holding some random object with are those bubbles all over your head? What the hell is your deal, man? It’s sort of a reverse Elvis situation. No one wanted Fat Elvis on a postage stamp, whereas if Fat Buddha busts in the door of your party with a 12 pack of Heineken under each arm you’re all like “WHAZZZAAAAAAAAP” and he’s like “WHAZZZZAAAAAAAAAP.”

Okay. Um. Angry Cat-Mouse-Whatever-Animal Car Faced Thing With Terrified Woman In The Driver’s Seat Who Looks Oddly Like Mary Mother Of Jesus In A Canopy That Has No Reason To Exist. Is it supposed to scare burglars away? Is it a demon? What in the sweet weeping fuck am I looking at here? Never mind. Sometimes there aren’t any answers for things. This is one of those times.

Do… you want your shoes to have hair? I’m not so much sure I do. It seems like a lot of maintenance, just to keep up with it. It’s hard enough to maintain my own hair, let alone make sure my shoes don’t need a haircut.

Okay that is a sentence that an insane person types. I think years of sifting through other people’s garbage has finally driven me mad. Thanks for following along, everyone. You’ve seen a man driven to the limits of his very sanity by an unrelenting barrage of secondhand nonsense. It’s been fun traveling with y’all but now I have to go away to this nice room where they’ve been considerate enough to pad the walls for me so I don’t bash my own brains out in a fit of “WHY THE FUCK DOES THIS DISGUSTING SHIT EXIST IN THE FIRST PLACE” or some such sentiment.

I kid. Thrifting is perhaps the only thing that keeps me sane. It’s certainly not the presence of a healthy, functional relationship in my life, lord knows. So that must be it. Shit like this keeps me alive. “Okay already shut the fuck up what do we have here,” you might be saying to yourself, and if you are then perhaps you should just calm down a little bit, but regardless THIS thing… well, my first assessment of it was, and this is the god’s honest truth, “highball glass, lowball glass, and ashtray, all in one convenient set” and my traveling companion looked at me and was like “really? Toothbrush holder, water glass, and soap dish.” And I was simultaneously delighted at how much of a delusional degenerate I am and also how sharp and decent and nice my partner in crime in this particular venture was, that she saw (correctly) a bathroom set where I saw YEAH AN EFFICIENT WAY TO GET FUUUKED UP BUDDDAY!!! I was going to buy it but after that little exchange I was too embarrassed.

Moving AWN, giving full credit to my associate in this journey, she spotted a store I’d looked up but lost track of (things were hectic, don’t ask) and it turned out to be the sweetest spot in the entire venture, hands down. Ladies and people who are not ladies, if you’re ever fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to find yourself in or around the coastal environs of southern Mississippi or thereabouts, please take a few minutes out of what I’m sure is your very busy day and find your way to the WREC Thrift Store on beautiful Pass Road outside of Gulfport MS. I fully and totally endorse this thrift store, which is not something I toss around lightly. The pictures we’re about to showcase don’t do it justice but have some measure of faith when I say that it was a whirlwind of wonderful delights, and although relatively few things ended up getting purchased, it was still the best hour or so I’ve spent in a secondhand store in as long as I can remember. Coming from me that should mean something. Anyway.

It was silly in there. “Nuts to butts” (shout out to Dave Lewis for that phrase – gross, dude) with amazing clothes and weird bizarre accoutrements, knick knacks and such, like

This awesome set of mini speakers for 2 bucks. I actually hooked them up to my phone and they made an insane amount of noise, especially for being so small (they were very small). I didn’t buy them because I kind of couldn’t think of when I’d need to use them but they were solid and potentially dangerous in the way that old electronics and appliances and things tended to be back in the day, because you had to be intelligent enough to use them without getting killed, which is how we weeded out the dumb ones. How do we do that now? Oh right, reality TV. We just make them famous.

UMM did we just discover a better version of the thermometer? Slap that shit on your forehead, wait 15 seconds, BAM! You’ve got a fever! Or not (I hope you are not actually sick). How did this not catch on? Is this like when we were all supposed to adopt the metric system back in the 70s but no one wanted it because we’re all so fundamentally lazy as Americans that we can’t rejigger a few numbers in our heads (that’s all it would have taken)?

I won’t rehash the skinny scarf revolution because I’m afraid dedicated readers of this internet blogging nonsense space are sick of hearing about it but it bears repeating that it’s in FULL effect, people have been popping up all over the place busting out skinny scarves with a fierceness that puts even this humble author (who was the co-originator of the trend in the first place) to shame, but one of the parts of staying on top of a fashion revolution is finding new ways to innovate and new places in which to do so, and thankfully the calming shores of the WREC Thrift Store were a haven and a maven (I don’t think that’s the proper usage of that word but I’m going to leave it in there) for us in our endless quest to expand the boundaries of what is appropriate for a dude to just wear while he is walking around. To wit:

Your humble narrator, thrift coordinator, obscure idea explicator, secondhand bomb detonator, messiah of the one true gospel that is other people’s discarded possessions, decorated in the best of his fineries, which in this case is what is basically a sash that he’s wearing like a scarf, but god dammit clothes are what you decide they’re going to be and if I say this silly piece of fabric makes me fab to the lous then guess what, it does. It’s not a great picture or anything but if you grasp the spirit behind it then perhaps today is the day you finally leave the house with a potato for a hat. And if you do then I wish you well and I will enthusiastically high five you when I see you on the street. That is a promise.

This Joker suit came SO close to fitting me that I honestly considered buying it even though the pants were so tight they made me feel like my intestines were an angry squid that had somehow found its way into the inside of my body and was trying to squeeze me to death from somewhere in there. Unfortunately it’s a lot easier to take clothes in than it is to let them out. This is the opinion of someone who’s never been to a professional tailor. Who also has never been to an amateur tailor. Who also has never worn clothes worth of tailing (that’s probably not the right way to say that). I basically live in a dumpster. Love me

Remember when I would find laundry baskets full of obsolete unusable electronics every time I went out to a thrift store? Longtime readers of this blog (I fool myself into thinking they exist, forgive me) will remember in the early entries the HUUUUGE amounts of power adapters, charging cables, sockets, outlets, transformers, and other related so and sos that we would stumble across, kind of chiding them with bemused delight, whereas now, any time I see a pile of this crap I’m like THANK GOD it feels like a drink of water in a vast endless desert or a breath of air in vacuum, BECAUSE:

This is a point I’ve been meaning to make for a long time. Thrift stores are becoming far too sanitized. The more stores that close up in the city and re-open in the suburbs, the worse it gets. Is the experience of shopping in the Salvation Army on Kirby Whitten Road cleaner than the experience of shopping in the one that used to be open on Danny Thomas Boulevard? Sure. Of course it is. But is it better? Fuck no. Not in a million years. Why, you ask? Because the whole point is that you’re SUPPOSED to get your hands dirty a little bit. It makes whatever gems you end up finding (because in stores like that you ALWAYS end up finding something) that much more valuable, because you got a little gross in the effort to find them. Those two concepts are inseparable, and I’m sorry but the huge Goodwills and Salvation Army stores out in the boonies are nice and everything but I’d trade them in a heartbeat to have Salvo Danny Thomas and Goodwill Chelsea back, no hesitation. Because that’s what it’s about. Gross stores keep the squares away. The sanitized places are fine for what they are, but I want the dirty places to continue to exist. Because they’re not mutually exclusive. People like you and I, dear reader, we need spots to go to where the less brave would quail. We need places to make our magic, to find the home decorations that make people say “oh wow where did you get that” and we say with practiced nonchalance, “thrift store. No bigs.” And if you believe what I’m preaching, if you’re interested in drinking this particular brand of Kool-Aid, then let me know and we can venture out together. Let’s power through the rest of this nonsense so I can finish this entry before the fucking apocalypse comes

This is, really, I can’t dispute what it’s advertising. A bunch of bubble blowers. That’s a bubble pipe, a bubble clover pipe, and a bubble kazoo. If something about this doesn’t delight you on a really basic level then your inner child has died somewhere along the line and you may want to see a doctor because you might have lupus.

Calligraphy is a dying art but what isn’t dying, really

No idea what the fuck that is. Whatever

Ancient cellphone. Is that an ear cushion? Is that something people thought was okay? This weighed more than my foot and probably got reception like you were calling from Jupiter. Remember when only assholes had cellphones? Ah, those were the days.

Let’s get this over with. Tiny Goodwill.

Clothes and shit.

Okay this was actually pretty funny.

Books.

Books about whales.

Sock Jocky. Fashion Gadget. Sock Jocky Fashion Gadget. sockjockyfashiongadget

Bag of what

Oh that’s weird you never find a motorized wheelchair

SOMETIMES YOU FIND A SECOND MOTORIZED WHEELCHAIR

That’s it, loves. Thank you if you read through this whole nightmare apocalypse of verbiage. Bored people at work, I love you, you’re my core audience. You and my mom. Regardless, thanks for sticking with this space, it will continue to exist for as long as there’s a pile of crap to sift through, and very special thanks to Courtney for… well, for all of it. Be back soon, my dearests.

ROWING IT!

d

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